Wednesday Jolt: Coal Trains and Consumer Lending
The day's winners and losers.
Today's winner: Coal.
Take this with a whole shaker full of salt—the proposal to build a coal terminal in Bellingham is an incredibly complicated proposition with multi-state, and even international, environmental and economic implications—but in a new Elway Poll, half of Washington state citizens said they support the proposal. One in three (32%) said they opposed it, and 19 percent were undecided. As for that shaker of salt: Most respondents were sketchy on the details, and only six in 10 said they even had heard about the proposal.
Residents of Seattle, not surprisingly, were the most likely to oppose the coal port, with 49 percent opposed; the area of the state most likely to support the terminal was King County outside Seattle, where 59 percent said they were in favor of the proposal. Around Bellingham, 46 percent said they supported the project and 45 percent said they opposed it (in all cases, some respondents were undecided).
Interestingly, among those who had at least heard of the proposed coal terminal, those with only a casual awareness of the proposal tended to be more supportive (56 percent in support to 28 percent opposed) than those who were familiar with the details (52 percent in support to 43 percent opposed). This, pollster Stuart Elway writes, suggests that "proponents have the advantage in the early framing of the discussion. Since the more casually held opinions favor the coal ports, opponents will have a heavier lift to persuade people with those opinions to change their minds, while the proponents’ easier task will be to reinforce already favorable inclinations."
Also tellingly, when asked what the most important factors were in forming their opinion of the coal terminal proposal, all three of the top factors were economic—"local jobs," "tax revenue," and "community investment" came out above "tankers in strait," "18 trains a day," and "export to China."
Today's second winner: State Rep. Sharon Nelson.
As we mentioned in this morning's Fizz, Nelson (D-34) raised objections to legislation sponsored by conservative state Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-44) ostensibly aimed at creating an alternative to high-interest payday loans that would limit annual interest to 36 percent, compared to as much as 400 percent for payday loans.
Hobbs initially had 11 co-sponsors, including lefty Democrats David Frockt (D-46) and Maralyn Chase (D-32). After Nelson pointed out that the many fees and penalties in the bill could result in interest rates as high as 200 percent—and that the bill could allow a loan company to repossess a person's car if they defaulted—Chase and Frockt pulled their sponsorship.
Add another Democratic name to the list: Sen. Mark Mullet (D-5), a freshman legislator who, according to his staff, decided to take his name off the bill when he learned about the fees it would authorize. We have a call out to Mullet.